BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Technology has revolutionized the way doctors practice medicine, especially in smaller communities. Live video streams give specialists the chance to reach more patients and make faster, more accurate diagnoses.
Pointe Coupee General Hospital in New Roads recently partnered with Our Lady of the Lake on a telecardiology system. OLOL heart specialists are available 24/7 to assist doctors working in Pointe Coupee's emergency room.
"They can be on the screen within minutes and at the bedside with us while we're caring for the patient both in an emergency situation and maybe a not so emergency situation," said ER doctor Will Freeman.
9News cameras watched as Dr. Joseph Deumite assessed a patient in New Roads from the comfort of his Baton Rouge office.
"We can do almost anything we can do face-to-face," he said. "We can listen to their heart, we can look at their EKG, we can look at their blood test."
He can also talk directly with the patient and move the robotic camera around the emergency room. A connected stethoscope transmits the patient's heartbeat into his headphones 40 miles away in Baton Rouge.
Before this technology was available, patients were often transferred from rural hospitals to Baton Rouge or New Orleans out of an abundance of caution. This system allows a specialist to evaluate the patient before the transfer is made, which reduces the number of unnecessary and expensive trips.
"They like going into Baton Rouge, but they really like the care they can receive at their local home hospital," Freeman said. "They're very comforted by the fact that they're taken care of by friends and family."
The telemedicine system even works on iPhones and home laptops when the OLOL cardiologists are away from the office.
"We want them to feel comfortable to call us, and that's what we're here for," Deumite said.
The hope is that better communication leads to better outcomes. Telemedicine is also routinely used around the country to evaluate stroke and psychiatric patients.
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